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When Ten 01 opened on H Street NE last fall above Ben’s Chili Bowl, it did not utilize the Ben’s name despite the fact that the formula seemed to work on U Street at Ben’s Next Door and that the Ben’s name has enough clout to warrant its own historian.
One year later, the Ben’s Chili Bowl team is doubling back by renaming the upstairs restaurant, bar, and roof deck Ben’s Upstairs. PoPville first reported that the switch occurred in conjunction with this past weekend’s H Street festival.
Manuel Iguina tells Y&H he was brought in by the Ben’s Chili Bowl family to “upgrade the brand” at the full service restaurants. “It makes sense to keep that family namesake, it sounds better,” he says.
The new menu features dishes that pull from both the South and the Caribbean because founder Ben Ali was born in Trinidad and he met his wife, Virginia Ali, in Virginia.
That’s why you’ll find appetizers like stuffed yucca and green plantains next to fried green tomatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese studded with crawfish. The menu also has sandwiches like po’boys (so hot right now), whole fried snapper with coconut mojo and plantains, and pork ribs with Carolina barbecue sauce.
Chef Quinton Mitchell, who hails from North Carolina, is manning the kitchen but Iguina is doing some consulting because he too comes from the Caribbean. Ben’s Upstairs serves dinner Tuesdays through Sundays and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ben’s Upstairs, 1001 H St. NE; (202) 733-2405; bensupstairs.com